Session at Old State House Evokes Memory of Act 100 and A-State's Founding
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas House of Representatives wrapped up a special session Wednesday by attending to some pressing items of state business. Representatives met in the Old State House because the House chamber at the State Capitol is under renovation.
The last regular session at the Old State House, which was the state's first capitol building, took place in 1909. Among the items of business, the General Assembly passed, and Gov. George Donaghey signed into law, Act 100 to create an agricultural training school in each of the four congressional districts. The school at Jonesboro evolved into Arkansas State University.
The proceedings that led to the bill creating the district schools are featured in the opening spread of the award-winning book, “Embrace the Past: 1909-2009, Celebrating Our First Century,” which was published in honor of the university’s centennial.
Here is the text from that opening spread, the first of 100 creatively illustrated stories from Arkansas State’s first 100 years. For those who want to read more, copies of the centennial book are available at Cooper Alumni Center, 2600 Alumni Blvd., for a fee of only $45.
Now, allow the mind to drift back to April of 1909, in the aging state capitol building along the south bank of the Arkansas River in Little Rock . . .
~ ~ ~
STROKE OF A PEN
-- The Passage of Act 100 --
The 37th General Assembly of Arkansas spoke with one voice in 1909 when it supported the Arkansas Farmers’ Union by enacting a law to create four agricultural schools – one in each district of the state. The passage of Act 100 had its dissenters along the way, however, and the bill passed 84 to 7 in the House and 23 to 3 in the Senate. Several legislators made comments as they cast their votes. Their statements below became part of the permanent record.
Why tell the farmer on the stump,
That he is your sugar lump?
Why praise his horse, and praise his plow?
Why help his wife to milk her cow?
Why did you make his children laugh
To see you stand and hold the calf?
Have you since then changed up the rule?
Do you now view him as a fool?
Do you think, when he calls for four,
That he means one and nothing more?
I’ll cast my vote to give him four,
And after while to give him more.
I vote I
Representative J. L. Brown
However much I may desire to get on the
“band wagon,” in my judgment I have waited
too long. To get on the wagon now would be
compromising myself. I still vote no.
Representative Oscar Winn
In Committee of the Whole,
I voted for—just one.
And now upon my soul
Think that act well done.
But four they want—and so here goes.
But where the coin is to come from
God only knows.
So right or wrong, live or die
Record me now as voting I
Representative E. D. Smothers
I am in favor of one agricultural school in the
State, with an appropriation sufficient to
equip it fully, and I believe it will be provided.
But I can not support this bill with what I
consider a very reckless expenditure of much
needed funds. I, therefore, vote nay.
Representative Carl Lee
I much prefer one school at present but not
knowing whether we will get one and
preferring four to one, I vote aye.
Representative A. C. Martin
I have plowed for thirty years. I have
investigated agricultural colleges of every state.
I have studied the question for three years,
and introduced the first agricultural school
bill ever introduced in the Arkansas
Legislature. I am a firm believer in
agricultural schools and know the value to be
derived from them, but I regard it the worst
blunder the Arkansas Legislature could make
to build four schools that will fight themselves
to death in six years. As a friend to the
Farmers’ Union and not as a politician,
I vote, no.
Senator Robert W. Glover